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Accidentally drained your car battery and now the ignition isn’t clicking?
Fret not, read on below for a quick guide on how to jump-start a car, from the required tools to a step-by-step walk-through on what exactly you need to do.
Jump starting a car is a lot simpler than you think! And a basic skill anyone with a car should know!
Table Of Contents:
- What You Need To Jump Start A Car
- Safety Precautions When Jump Starting A Car
- How To Jump Start A Car At Home
- What To Do After You’ve Jumpstarted Your Car?
What You Need To Jump Start A Car
Apart from your unfortunately charge-less car battery, you’ll also need 2 other things to jump start it, namely:
- A pair of flat, undamaged jumper cables/jump leads.
- A fully-charged battery from:
- Another vehicle (avoid hybrid or electric ones as jump-starting may damage their batteries)
- A car battery booster/portable jump starter
Safety Precautions When Jump Starting A Car
Because we’re dealing with electricity here, it’s best to take some safety precautions when jump-starting a car, notably:
- Ensure that the battery is topped up with electrolytes before attempting to jump-start it.
- Do not try to jump-start a battery that is low on electrolytes, as this can lead to the battery rupturing or exploding.
Can You Be Electrocuted By A Car Battery?
Even though they are electrical components, a standard 12V car battery won’t shock you even if you touch it directly, due to the relatively low voltage car batteries have.
That being said, working with car batteries can still be dangerous, so do practice caution when handling them.
And while you can’t get shocked by the battery, there are other components under the hood of a car that can shock you, such as the ignition coil.
So do try and wear insulated gloves if you’re working under the hood of your car.
How To Jump Start A Car At Home
Now that you’ve gone through the difficult part (getting a pair of jumper cables and a willing battery donor), the actual steps are pretty simple.
We’ve broken down the steps into jump-starting your car with another vehicle and jump-starting your car with a battery booster pack/portable jump starter kit.
How To Jump Start A Car With Another Vehicle
The necessary steps are all written down in the following sections, but you can take a look at the video below if you prefer a visual aid.
Pay close attention to the sequence of how you attach the jumper cables to the respective battery terminals!
Step 1 – Prepare The Vehicles
Firstly, you’ll want to ensure that both vehicles are lined up close enough (hood to hood) for the jumper cables to connect to each of the car’s batteries. But not too close that they’re touching.
Both cars should also be put in Park/Neutral, and have their engines turned completely off at the beginning.
Turn off all unnecessary electrical appliances as well, such as headlights and/or radio.
Step 2 – Attach The Red Jumper Cable
First, attach one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal (+) of the flat battery.
Then, attach the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the charged battery (I.e. batter donor).
Step 3 – Attach The Black Jumper Cable
Secondly, attach one end of the black jumper cable onto the negative terminal (-) of the charged battery.
Next and most importantly, ensure that the other end of the black jumper cable is connected to a ground point, such as an engine bracket or bolt, or any unpainted metal section of your car.
Step 4 – Start The Car With The Charged Battery
The next step is to start the car (with the charged battery) and let it run for around 5 minutes. So it can charge up the flat battery with enough juice to start the other car.
Step 5 – Start The Car With The Flat Battery
Now for the moment of truth:
Try and start the car with the flat battery to see if it’ll run.
If it does, great! Keep it running for a couple of minutes to build charge within the battery.
If it still doesn’t start, turn off the engine of the other car and double-check if the cables are connected properly, before restarting it and letting the car run for another 5 or so minutes.
And if it still won’t start, you might need to get professional help, or a battery replacement at the very least.
Step 6 – Disconnect the Jumper Cables
Whether the car starts or not, you do have to disconnect the jumper cables.
First, switch off the engines on both vehicles.
Next, remove the black jumper cable from the earthing point, followed by the other end attached to the negative terminal of the flat battery.
After that, remove the red jumper cable from the positive terminal of the flat battery, followed by the other end from the positive terminal of the working battery.
Step 7 – Restart The Car
Now that you’ve disconnected the cable, try restarting the car with the flat battery to see if it works.
Step 8 – Call For Help If It Doesn’t Work
If the car doesn’t work, it means the battery is unable to hold a charge.
Given that you’ve tried everything at this point, it might be time to throw in the towel and get some professional help.
How To Jump Start A Car With a Portable Jump Starter
Now, if you happen to have your own portable jump starter, here’s how you use it to jump start your car’s flat battery:
Step 1 – Check The Portable Jump Starter
Before starting, check that the pack is fully charged, or has enough juice to jump-start your car battery.
Note: There should be a battery life indicator on the pack.
You should also place the booster on stable ground, so it doesn’t fall off when the engine starts!
Note: Under no circumstances should you turn the booster pack on before both the red and black jump leads are properly connected
Step 2 – Connect The Red Jumper Cable
Similar to before, connect the red jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal of your car battery.
Step 3 – Connect the Black Jumper Cable
The black negative ( – ) cable should then be connected to a grounded point, preferably the engine block, or an unpainted portion of your car.
Step 4 – Turn On The Battery Pack
Once both lines of the battery pack are connected, switch on the pack and place it on stable ground.
Step 5 – Start The Car
Now that’s done, try and start the car to see if it works.
If the car doesn’t start after a couple of tries, ensure that the cables are properly connected before trying again.
However, if it still doesn’t work, there may be a more serious issue with the battery, and you should seek professional help to sort it out.
Step 6 – Allow The Engine To Run
Assuming that the car is able to start, let the engine is running for about 5 or so minutes.
Remember that you still have the pack connected (and the hood up), so don’t try driving the car just yet!
After 5 or so minutes, turn off the battery pack, but keep the engine running for another 5 to 15 minutes.
Step 7 – Turn Off The Battery Pack And Disconnect The Cables
After allowing the car engine to idle for the allotted time, remove the jumper leads starting with the black cable, followed by the red cable.
Step 8 – Try Starting Your Car Again
Then try starting the car again to see if it works.
If it doesn’t, you’ll have to call for help from your car service center to sort out the problem.
What To Do After You’ve Jumpstarted Your Car?
If you’ve restarted the car and it works, drive it around for a couple of minutes to build a charge within your battery for the next time you start it.
If it doesn’t start the next time around either, it might be time to get a replacement battery.
There are also plenty of things you can do to keep your battery running for longer, have a look at our tips on prolonging your car battery life!
And there you have it, a quick and easy guide on jump-starting a flat car battery the safe way.
If you find that you’re frequently losing charge on your battery, it’s probably time to replace it with a new one.
In which case, do check out our article on the best car batteries available in Malaysia for our recommended options.